Warwick holds line on taxes, approves 2019 budget

By on December 26, 2018

There will be no tax hike next year in Warwick Township.

The board of supervisors on Dec. 20 approved the 2019 budget, with total revenue projected at $5,002,937 and total expenditures at $4,999,844, yielding a small fund balance of $3,093.
For 2019, Warwick Township residents can expect no new taxes or property tax increases in the coming year. The millage rate will remain at the current millage rate of 0.02325, which has been maintained since 1990 at the equivalent of this millage rate. Among planned expenditures for the 2019 budget are design planning and permitting for the joint project to complete the Sixth Street extension, installation of new play equipment at the Warwick Township Municipal Park and channel improvements at Saylor Park.

Supervisors approved a benefit for those serving the community as volunteer fire fighters, ambulance personnel, fire police and others with a new Volunteer Service Credit Program. Volunteers will be able to apply for the credit that may provide a 20 percent savings on earned income tax. Another topic of discussion at the Dec. 20 meeting was a dilemma facing Warwick Township in terms of establishing guidelines for regulating communications towers and antennas in the township.

“It’s an effort to protect residential neighborhoods, while still providing service that is in high demand,” said township manager Daniel Zimmerman at the Dec. 20 meeting of Warwick Township supervisors.

What he was referring to is the impending roll-out of the newest 5G technology that is expected to speed up and enhance communications technology globally. It’s known as 5G, because it is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications. Succeeding 4G, 3G and 2G systems, 5G performance is expected to produce high data rates, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and device connectivity.

It might sound good to cell phone users, but there are concerns that come with this latest technology. Several area residents attended the Warwick Township meeting to express their trepidation.

“I am opposed to 5G technology being installed in Warwick Township because of the health effects,” said Eileen Crone, who attended with her husband, Neil Crone.
Crone cited studies that indicate that the new 5G cell towers may be more dangerous than other towers, because of the shorter length of millimeter waves required to support the bandwidth. That will require more cell towers which equates to more exposure to radiation.

“With a cell phone tower on every telephone pole, I am worried about the effect on people, animals and the environment,” said Crone.

Her concerns were shared by Linda and Hubert Peter Beck. Linda Beck noted that the increased radiation could have a serious impact on persons with disabilities, including children and the elderly.

According to the World Health Organization, the microwaves from cell phone towers have been linked to memory loss, headaches, cancer, birth defects, heart disease and other illnesses. The closer the cell phone towers are to places where people live, work or attend school, the greater the risks are to health.

“People with disabilities are most impacted by this,” said Linda Beck, adding that the exposure to 5G technology could affect the behavior of children, the health of senior citizens, classrooms for special needs children, and those who are most sensitive to the cell tower technology. Beck also questioned if the existing technology could be affecting insects, such as ladybugs and honey bees, which might be made worse by the new 5G technology.

Warwick Township supervisors chairperson Logan Myers said that the township hopes to find a balance between the demand for enhanced service and the potential health risks. One approach may be to limit the cell towers in residential neighborhoods, while focusing on their use in more industrial areas. Aware of the new 5G technology that is on the way, supervisors have been reviewing a proposed zoning ordinance regulating communications towers and antennas in the township for several months.

The ordinance would revise the provisions related to the approval, location, design and operation of wireless communications facilities. The ordinance would set the requirements applicable to communications antennas and communications towers, including those outside and within the right-of-way.

Among the issues being considered are guidelines on placement of cell towers in certain neighborhoods where residents want coverage, but do not want the physical tower in the neighborhood.

“That is the challenge here,” said Zimmerman, adding that the new technology is in high demand by consumers, but drawing concern for those who question the health risks. Zimmerman noted that the township ordinance is still being reviewed, with provisions for neighborhoods and HOAs to opt out of having technology installed close to people. The proposed ordinance with go on to Lancaster County Planning Commission, and then to Warwick Township Planning Commission. There will also be requirements for public hearings to be held before cell towers are installed.

Warwick Township planned Billy Clauser presented the update to the 2018 MS4 Report, which stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. Clauser reported that Warwick Township had held its 16th stream cleanup and its 21st Watershed Day for 362 Warwick School District and Lititz Area Christian School students. The Day on Lititz Run community event during Lancaster County’s Water Week was well attended and educated people on stream quality, the local fisheries and environmental areas in the township.

“We are finding a reduction in water temperatures and nitrate levels, which are good results in efforts for improving water quality,” said Clauser, adding that at the township will be working with Elizabethtown College, Lititz Borough and Landstudies, Inc. to continue work to improve water quality in the Lititz Run Watershed area.

Road superintendent Jason Minnich provided an update on the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail. The bridgework is completed and the crosswalk is done, putting the last phase of the trail on target for completion by the end of 2018. Minnich noted that the split rail fence along the road is still being completed. The trail is expected to be opened just after Christmas. Minnich reported that the township has faced its first snowfall of the 2018-19 winter season with the Nov. 15 snow of six-to-eight inches. The heavy snowfall resulted in more than 300 accidents in Lancaster County, and many on Warwick Township roads. Minnich said that road crews focused first on clearing main roads, then neighborhoods.

Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Chief David Steffen thanked the road crews and emergency personnel for their efforts in the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm. He also reported that the police department’s Blue Christmas program was very successful this year, and that more than 600 presents were given to children and their families for the holiday season.

In subdivision matters, supervisors approved a reduction in the letter of credit for the United Zion renovation project and for the Stauffers of Kissel Hill project.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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